It has been announced this week that the ‘Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa)’ – commonly known simply as a 457 visa – is to be abolished. From March 2018, it is to be replaced by a new ‘Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa’.
The new TSS visa will consist of two streams, with an accompanying occupation list for each. Those jobs listed on the Short-term Skilled Occupations List will entitle the visa holder to a maximum stay of two years. The second occupation list, the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List, will be used for skilled migration and entitle the visa holder to a maximum of four years.
While the new TSS visa won’t come into use until next year, other changes have been put into place with immediate effect. Such as the list of eligible occupations, which has been significantly reduced. Where previously there had been 615 occupations with access to 457 visas, as from 19 April 2017 there are now only 435. And of those that remain, 59 of them have restrictions. For example, 24 occupations have been restricted to only regional areas, such as those relating to farming and agriculture.
Along with the changes to the visa, tighter guidelines will now also apply to applicants. A criminal history check will now be mandatory, where previously applicants completed a self-declaration, and all applicants will have to sit a new tougher English language test. There will also be a requirement for all applicants to have a minimum of two year’s relevant work experience, even if the person holds a related qualification.
In conjunction with these new requirements, the maximum age limit for applicants has been reduced from 50 to 45 years.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has warned employers that they will need to be able to demonstrate that they have adequately attempted to fill the role with an Australian worker before looking to overseas, threatening to publicly name employers who are not meeting this obligation.
Current holders of a 457 visa who are already residing in Australia will be exempt from all of the changes.
By: Barbara Nunn Payroll Subject Matter Expert